Our final blog to celebrate the SPILLERS Professional Rider of the Year H&H Awards introduces you to the life and career of dressage rider Nikki Crisp.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Probably being a test rider for the London 2012 Olympics. It was an incredible opportunity and the chance to experience the Games with zero pressure made for a slightly surreal feeling while riding my dressage test. It definitely made me hungry for more!

What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?

Funding everything myself! My husband and I eventually bought our own property two years ago. I probably own too many horses but I'm terrible at parting with them! Tough as it is sometimes, I wouldn't have life any other way.

Nikki Crisp dressage


Do you have any tips for dealing with competition nerves?

Plenty of preparation - If you feel good about the competition ahead then the nerves are never as strong. Make sure you remember to breathe when you go in the ring too! I often tell myself to imagine that I am at home, riding my test with nobody watching. It's really a mind over matter feeling I think.

If you weren’t a professional dressage rider what would be your ideal career?

My family are all vets so I would probably have followed the same path. I always wanted to be a jockey growing up. Now that I live in Newmarket we sometimes steal a horse from a friend’s string and head up the gallops so then again, maybe I would have followed that dream after all. I don't think you could have two disciplines further apart though - the super controlled world of dressage and galloping at full throttle!

Nikki Crisp dressage

If you could ride any horse, past or present, which would you choose?

Totilas or Red Rum. Both are unbelievable and iconic.

Who do you look up to most?

I have huge respect for so many people in our sport - but probably Carl Hester. He is an amazing horse person and has done so much to change the popularity and face of dressage.

Can you describe your typical day?

I probably get up too late (about 7/7.30am). I'm a terrible night owl so am often reading emails or watching awful movies till gone midnight. I’m always on the yard by 8am and then ride all morning. All of the horses get turned out either in the field or sand turnout pens so it takes a while to get them ready. I teach in the afternoons and then try to take some of the horses out hacking; it’s a lovely way spend the later part of the day. I normally have to go and retrieve an errant Border Terrier or two from across the neighbour’s field at some point too!